By: Brandon Braich
On Thursday, March 7, the SFU women’s basketball team travelled to Western Washington University to take on the Vikings in a quarterfinal match for the GNAC Championships.
In a hard-fought and closely contested game, SFU fell 72–69 to the Vikings, eliminating them from the GNAC playoffs. Lead by Jessica Jones (20 points) SFU was able to stay within striking distance for much of the final quarter, but could not seize the opportunity as Western Washington hung on.
The game got off to an auspicious start with WWU quickly taking a lead 11 seconds into the game with a layup by Anna Schwecke. Schwecke lead the way for the Vikings with a team high 19 points on just ten shots.
But after that, SFU quickly took control, lead by Jones who scored seven consecutive points to give the Clan a 13–10 led. After free throws by Sophie Swant, Jones scored a layup on the fast break giving SFU a 20–12 lead.
SFU fortunes quickly turned in the second, where the Vikings offence began to fire on all cylinders. WWU, who would finish the night shooting 49%, outscored the SFU 24–8 in the second frame, turning an early deficit into a commanding 41–28 lead going into the half. SFU only managed two field goals in the quarter as they fell into a prolonged shooting slump.
SFU head coach Bruce Langford inserted Kendel Sands into the lineup to start the second half and the move paid immediate dividends. After hitting a pair of free throws, Sands hit a three to bring the Clan to within six, shifting momentum. After a Jones three and a layup by Samantha Beauchamp, SFU found themselves in a tie game.
In the final quarter, the Vikings were able to regroup, and began to grow their lead again. A layup by Kelsey Rogers gave WWU a 59–51 lead with just 6:46 to go in the game. SFU continued to stay with striking distance though, and a pair of free throws by Ozioma Nwabuko cut the lead to four with three minutes remaining.
After a three-pointer by Tayler Drynan made it a 69–64 game, SFU was able to get a critical stop giving them possession of the ball with a chance to make it a one possession game. Drynan, feeling it from the previous possession, launched another three but could not connect, forcing SFU to foul in order to prolong the game. WWU was able to hit their free throws, sealing the game and allowing them to advance.
Despite the heartbreaker, SFU’s season may not be over yet. Depending on how things shape out, the SFU women’s team may qualify for the West Region championship continuing their season for at least another game.